Farmers face 340m bill over animal diseases

UK - English livestock farmers face a future bill of 340 million a year as their contribution towards the cost of animal disease outbreaks, Hilary Benn, the Environment Secretary, has said.
calendar icon 26 October 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Hilary Benn said the Government would be seeking a contribution from farmers

Mr Benn confirmed the sum that the Government would be seeking from farmers under new arrangements for sharing responsibility for animal health and welfare, during oral questions in the Commons.

His announcement provoked anger among farmers in the wake of the Surrey foot and mouth outbreak, which began on a Government research site and has cost farmers hundreds of millions.

Officials said that the £40 million would be sought either through a levy or in the form of insurance against major disease outbreaks, under proposals that will be the subject of a future public consultation.

Jim Paice, the Conservative agriculture spokesman, said: "I find it incredible that Ministers are proposing these extra costs now when the livestock industry is on its knees as a result of the Government's failure to ensure biosecurity on its own premises.

"The £40 million annual bill confirmed by Hilary Benn dwarfs the sum provided to farmers in compensation for foot and mouth and couldn't be timed with greater insensitivity.

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